...(most of these individuals I have discovered do not have a great understanding of their own beliefs themselves and have not read or understood many of the thinkers upon whom their creeds are supposedly founded).
That tends to be the way with most supremeist, whether the foundation of their beleif is religion, race or social class. Hell, understanding stuff gets in the way of defining yourself as bette than everyone else.
1-How it is to be an atheist? Have you ever gotten in a less favorable situation because of it?
Hmm, I can't think of anything really significant that's happened from people's bias against me except some awkwardness here and there and maybe some hurt feelings in debate. Once people get to know me they generally respect my value system.
When I went to rehab in 2006 it was definitely the first time I felt like I was around people that had blatantly contradictory views to me. A few days in I was talking to some people about evolution or something and realized none of them believed in it. I earned the nickname "Darwin" after that. We all still got along, though.
2-Are you open about about it? Do your family and co-workers know it?[/B]
I've never tried to hide it. My family definitely knows (I used to be kind of in-your-face about it as a teenager), and any of my coworkers who I've talked to about enough personal stuff know.
My life just seems much better being an atheist than not. Well, actually, I have no idea how to even imagine myself as not an atheist as it's so intertwined in the way I think about the world. The way I try to think is centered around the idea of trying to falsify everything and picking the last views standing -- don't know how God could survive that.
I think most of us agree that the most judgmental of people tend to be church-going Christians
I think that a more accurate way to say this is that the most judgmental people are the ones who have the least (socially, financially) to lose by being judgmental -- and in most of the US, this happens to be church-going Christians. That's not to imply that most church-going Christians are judgmental -- most are not -- but those that are, are able to be more public about it without as heavy a corresponding loss in social/financial status.
I don't really describe myself as an atheist (I would tend to prefer the more low-key and non-loaded term "non-religious"), but by any reasonable definition I am one. So, my answers...
1-How it is to be an atheist? Have you ever gotten in a less favorable situation because of it?
I think that it can be somewhat isolating (although I've found that Magic's statement that being a non-drinker comes up more often, and in more exclusionary ways, than being non-religious does). I grew up in a very religious community, and my family was not a member of this religion. It did limit my social opportunities -- but truth be told I wouldn't have been Mr. Social anyway. But I think that socially, I'd have had more opportunities and support if I shared more in common with most of the people whom I grew up with. But in terms of blatant "Get lost, you stinking heathen" type responses? No. It doesn't come up that much, and when it does, it tends to evoke a response of light condescension or pity, and not anything much worse.
2-Are you open about about it? Do your family and co-workers know it?
I'm not open about it at all. My family might know -- they know that I don't attend church, and likely know that I have no interest in doing so, but it's never come up as an actual topic of conversation. I have a few friends who know (they asked outright), and quite a few more who could probably guess, but I make a habit of not volunteering that sort of information. Too much to lose, and little to gain unless you know someone really well.
Co-workers... a dangerous area for me. I've actually had my boss make some sort of comment like "you're not one of those atheists, are you, *hahahaha*?" where it was obvious that he considered the possibility humorous and semi-insult-teasing. I didn't respond, and I think he got the point that it wasn't something I was going to discuss. Most of my other co-workers are religious -- not particularly outwardly so, but in idle chit-chat they often talk about church stuff, church sports leagues, etc. I just stay quiet, which isn't all that unusual for me anyway.
Disbeleif and beleif are the exact same entity just polar opposites. you don't have to place yourself on any side of the spectrum folks You can just find content in knowing you don't know. And maybe explore within yourself rather then judge other doctrins. Look within yourself for truth and you might find truth everywhere you look. But if you do not look within yourself you will find disbeleif and beleif everywhere you look. The world is not black and white
Originally Posted by SuchIrony
I consider myself an agnostic, not an atheist. I think there is a possibility some God or higher power exists but more than likely not.
I'll answer anyway.
I have a feeling I'm defining atheist in a different way than you guys who are labeling yourself agnostic...
It's one thing to say that I don't have 100% or 0% confidence in my beliefs. In this sense, I'm agnostic about many many things. My confidence that God doesn't exist is slightly less than 100%.
But unless you're somewhere around 50% confidence, it seems like what you "believe" is just the side that you lean towards. I'll use a cliche line of reasoning -- I'm not 100% confident that the earth orbits the sun (I haven't actually looked through telescopes and done the math), but I believe that the earth orbits the sun. Technically, I'm agnostic about whether the earth orbits the sun. But if someone were to ask me if I believe that the earth orbits the sun, I would say yes. In the same sense, I believe that there is not a God. So I'm both an atheist and technically agnostic as well. I would say almost all atheists are agnostic according to this reasoning.
I don't actually see how agnosticism is an answer to the question "do you believe in God?". It's a yes or no question. "I don't know" doesn't actually answer anything, it just sidesteps the question.
Basically what I'm saying is agnosticism doesn't lie on the spectrum between atheism and belief in God. It's not a point that exists in that dimension.
Part I. “We must be able to use and learn critical thinking skills and take no dogma whether religious or political. The truth is within us. No man is a god no matter his credentials. Nor, is any religious text infallible. Humans wrote all religious texts, and humans are fallible. Learn to think for yourself. This and hearing the feedback of others will help us grow.
This instead of being stuck in dogma that on one hand has universal truths, but yet at the same time is behind the times. I believe in a universal force, which helps to tie the universe together. Ultimately, I think we are energy as well as chemical beings. I am agnostic, existentialist, humanist, and feminist with other attributes.
Each will believe that what they believe is true. I have learned the hard way not to trust the emotions. I am much more into science. I use the analogy that day is true. Night is true. I feel everyone has a tie to this universal wisdom. Each is flawed. We need each other to balance out the discrepancies in our logic.
Feel inside for the god or goddess you really are. We are connected to the universe; make no mistake about that this. Reach out to the energy that seems to bind all of us. It is your energy and your desire that directs and taps into this universal consciousness, which is apparently asleep.
It is your desire. Your fundamental energy tied to the universe that directs and channels change, as well as metamorphosis. Realize and become free. Do not seek a miracle, for you are the miracle and divine. You are the power. We are connected. But one needs will, focus, and not rely on an external source that will do the work for you. You are the maker of your destiny."
Part II. I think that anything that cannot be explained as of yet is attributed to god. There is so much that we don't know. It is the unknown. It causes us distress. We need an explanation our curious mind with its curiosity needs to know, and to classify things both to make ourselves feel better & to explain it to others. Our wonderful creative brain fills in the blanks. We use metaphors to describe things we may not know the truth of. These metaphors are written down. People hold on to it to explain reality. It is taken as truth.
God or Goddess is varied and means very different things to varied people. No one can say. We do not have the capacity to grasp God, all we can do is have a belief system and work from that point. It is so disturbing and anger provoking to see humankind squabble over what they don't have a clue. I do so like eastern philosophy in that there being different roads, as well paths up a mountain.
Or across an ocean that is a human consciousness. This is in stark contrast with the Western monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism as well Islam. I say let each live their path.
Now there is the phenomenon of deep meditative states where tne experiences interconnectedness with the oneness of the universe. One can label that God. There is no direct truth. There are inferences and suppositions. However one can feel that there is a god, and therefore there is a God.
I will humbly make this statement, what I think, feel, believe passionately may be wrong. I may be wrong and not know it. Now the reverse is true. Those that believe may be wrong. I guess to me it goes back on how we lead our individual lives. There are evil Christians and evil atheists. There are good Christians and good atheists. This matters to me.
I will, I do not know how far one should go in this convoluted and dangerous direction. I shall expound a little on mysticism. Like I say, my belief is we are interconnected. So if one loses themself, and let's go, there is a heady rush. People ascribe this phenomenon to God. I believe that it has a scientific explanation. But this powerful felt heady euphoria is experienced in all the branches of religion; Kabbalah, Sufism, etc. I will just describe the apparent phenomenon and not label it anything, currently.
I equate it sort of as love. Feeling in love is heady, and quite fascinating. Make of it what you will. A thing I do acknowledge is that an experience such as feeling saved, or feeling and being in love is a profound feeling. Some shall describe it as being connected to the almighty or to a universal consciousness, or state of oneness.
A believer will not in any way convince a non-believer with using reason, for it is felt. I am of the belief that it is incorrectly labeled as coming from a higher power. A nonbeliever will conversely be unable to convince a devout believer to ascribe with agnosticism. Let's live, love each other and leave every one alone. I'm not talking to you, it just happens to be my stance when religion arises.
"Half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies.” Joseph Campbel
“I am an idealist who tries to think with rational reasoning, free of distortions to the best of my ability. I don't know if man will always be insane as well as fighting each other. It makes no sense to certain segments of the population. All we can do is implement changes. It is a slow process. I think the dinosaurs were here for 160,000,000 years. We are still infants. That can give us hope. Evolution and moral consciousness is an extremely slow process.
No wonder there are so many cults. Their problem is that they circumvent freedom & individuality. But what about (I'm being a little facetious here) a new planned society. A new "religion" & or brand new philosophy that actually works. Right now, none of the religions are working effectively enough to counteract the ignorance of the human species.
Let's start a brand new society based on non-negative energy and some of your wise choices. Come on. Let's do it. Let's create a society that ‘functions’ & that bring flow to the people. Do not go into superstition & fear. Believe in yourselves. We are interconnected, of that it is certain. What is not certain is the evidence of a Devil. This is misguided. We were as children around a campfire. We told stories of what we could not understand. So we made up monsters, in every culture. The Devil is unreal, a total fiction. There is no reason to fear the invisible non-being of something that does not exist.
We are the makers of our destiny & not god, neither devil. So why do we do evil & ignorant things. It is internal. We have internal distortions of thought. Throw in pain. We must heal. How so we do that exactly. Because we are so different, there are many approaches. It is finding something that will work. It isn’t easy. There are course corrections.” LightSun
I'm not an atheist, but where I live, it isn't that weird to be one.
Are you american?
A man builds. A parasite asks 'Where is my share?'
A man creates. A parasite says, 'What will the neighbors think?'
A man invents. A parasite says, 'Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God... '